Tuesday Tidbits

The Wall Street Journal published a fascinating story yesterday on the future of hospitals.

The days of the hospital as we know it may be numbered.  In a shift away from their traditional inpatient facilities, health-care providers are investing in outpatient clinics, same-day surgery centers, free-standing emergency rooms and microhospitals, which offer as few as eight beds for overnight stays. They are setting up programs that monitor people 24/7 in their own homes. And they are turning to digital technology to treat and keep tabs on patients remotely from a high-tech hub.

Cost curve down perhaps??

Today, a House Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing on the CVS – Aetna combination.  The FEHBlog listened to the first 30 minutes of the hearing. Interesting exchanges. Beckers Hospital Review reports that Aetna’s CEO Mark Bertolini observed on CBS yesterday that

CVS Health comprises 10,000-plus clinics and pharmacies across the U.S., which Mr. Bertolini said will act as “10,000 new front doors to the healthcare system.” These spaces could become local options for preventive care, filling prescriptions and treatment, which may sway Americans from entering the healthcare system only when they’re in need of extensive care, he added.

Of course, the CVS Pharmacies and their Minute Clinics already serve these purposes. It will be interesting to see what Aetna adds to the mix. The FEHBlog has long thought that insurers can improve their public standing through face to face contact. The greatest advantage likely will arise from tighter combination of data.

Drug Channels came out with its latest economic report on U.S. pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers.

“The U.S. drug channel has become increasingly consolidated,” says Drug Channels Institute CEO Adam J. Fein, Ph.D., the study’s author and a widely regarded expert on pharmaceutical economics and the drug distribution system. “Six companies—CVS Health, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Express Scripts, Walmart, Rite Aid, and UnitedHealth—accounted for almost two-thirds of U.S. prescription dispensing revenues in 2017. Also, more than 70% of equivalent prescription claims are processed by three PBMs: the Caremark business of CVS Health, Express Scripts, and the OptumRx business of UnitedHealth.”